Developing an Understanding of the Encounters between Local Authority Social Workers in England and Women who have been Subjected to Domestic Abuse

PhD Thesis

Detjen, K. 2023. Developing an Understanding of the Encounters between Local Authority Social Workers in England and Women who have been Subjected to Domestic Abuse. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Education & Communities
AuthorsDetjen, K.
TypePhD Thesis

Local authority social workers in England engage more with children and their families due to domestic abuse than any other concern (Stanley, 2011a). This thesis looks to explore what happens when local authority social workers and women who have been subjected to domestic abuse interact with one another, in a way that has not been done before. It seeks to understand how these interactions can be conceptualised and described, by understanding how they both view their interactions with one another, and how the interactions impact on decision-making. This was done by using a feminist theoretical approach, as well as a psychodynamic approach which allowed for further depth of analysis.

An innovative qualitative methodology is used to provide an in-depth exploration of these interactions. An ethnographic approach involving semi-structured narrative mobile interviews with social workers, which took place during the car journeys to,
and from the home visit, an adaptation of the Tavistock infant observation model for observing the interactions and semi-structured narrative interviews with the women. There were seven social workers and six women involved in the research, which resulted in 22 interviews with social workers, 13 observations of home visits and meetings, and seven interviews with women. Grounded theory is used to analyse the data.

Findings include that although mothers feel social work interventions are blaming and threatening, they also appreciate social work interventions. It was found that
mothers are held responsible for the safety of their children, even when they are not the ones causing the abuse. Social workers understand their responses are not always supportive and empowering and have to manage the aspects of care and control.

Original contribution to knowledge:

• Including both mothers and social workers in the same research when they are actively working with one another

• Using innovative methods to conceptualise and describe the interactions between mothers and social workers

Keywordsdomestic abuse; social work; interactions; home visits
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Online18 Sep 2023
Publication process dates
Completed25 Jul 2023
Deposited18 Sep 2023
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author
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